Photo by Noy Morcoso/INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines — Former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. was acquitted of plunder charges on Friday with a less of fanfare. Here is how it unfolded.
Before the court proceeding even started, around 150 supporters of Revilla — majority of whom hail from Cavite — gathered outside the Sandiganbayan building to support their provincial hero.
By 8:00 a.m., Revilla was already inside the Sandiganbayan premises, escorted by police officers from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Headquarters Support Service assigned at Camp Crame where he was detained.
Relatives including wife and Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla, their children Cavite Vice Governor Jolo Revilla, actor Bryan Revilla, and former actress Inah Revilla were also present during the hearing.
A few moments after the actor-turned-politician entered the Sandiganbayan First Division courtroom, co-accused lawyer Richard Cambe who was Revilla’s aide, and pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles took their seats at the front row. Revilla was seated at the far corner of the room.
Revilla’s friend, fellow former Senator Jinggoy Estrada who was also charged with plunder, arrived at the court room to signify support and solidarity. Estrada was set to attend a separate hearing, also related with to the pork barrel scam.
However, the promulgation scheduled at 8:30 a.m. did not start immediately. According to First Division Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg, the more than an hour delay was caused by a missing signature.
“When the decision was already in the premises of the Sandiganbayan, it had signatures of four (justices). Kasi si chair (First Division Chairperson Efren de la Cruz) ‘di ba na-interview pa [sa Supreme Court],” Econg explained after the court proceedings.
“So he had to sign. And then si Presiding Justice (Amparo Cabotaje-Tang) has to certify that the decision was done after consultation,” she added.
At around 9:35 a.m., the hearing started. Revilla, Napoles, and Cambe were called forward as the dispositive portion, which contained the whole verdict, was read.
Revilla was acquitted for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, while Napoles and Cambe were convicted and will serve a sentence of reclusion perpetua, aside from being banned from holding public office.
Immediately after the hearing ended, Revilla posted bail for 16 other graft cases, to seek temporary liberty. Napoles was brought back to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility, while Revilla was transported to Camp Crame.
After lunch, Econg — the “ponente” or the judge who wrote the decision — explained to reporters that Revilla was not actually found “not guilty,” but was merely acquitted because of lack of solid evidence. She also admitted that she initially wanted to convict him, but the facts hindered her from doing so.
Before 4:00 p.m., Sandiganbayan ordered the release of Revilla from detention, after it approved the bail he posted. He was released from the PNP’s custody after 6:00 p.m. /jpv
Bong Revilla acquitted of plunder
After plunder acquittal, Revilla posts P480K bail for 16 other graft cases
Sandigan orders ‘accused’ to return P124-M to nat’l treasury
Revilla freed from Camp Crame detention
READ: Full copy of Sandiganbayan ruling on Bong Revilla acquittal
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